By: Kari S.
I am troubled by the tweets and Facebook posts I see about relationship advice. I can’t tell you how many times a day I scroll through “inspirational” photos with big block letters saying something like, “He broke my heart so many times, and I was over him, I promise. But then he smiled at me and I fell in love again.” Because of society’s frequent activity on social networks, I feel like these posts are not only annoying, but quite possibly dangerous. I never encountered things like this when I was a teen before things like Twitter and Facebook had really taken off. While I received similar messages in other ways – books, music, TV – I wasn’t reading them over and over again on my computer/smartphone screen burning them into my retinas….not until now.
As a grown woman in a healthy relationship, I see nothing but red flags when I read these messages. However, I worry about younger women, or even women my age who are currently in unhealthy relationships. How many girls and women are suffering at the hands of another because they see these messages daily – reiterating that if they wait, or give him a second chance, or WHATEVER, he will love them? Also, how many people out there are confused about what love really is because so many messages tell us that love is basically a needy, clingy girl who is generally jealous, pouty and emotional, dating a lazy, arrogant, inattentive and callous bad boy who deep-down inside is sweet as a puppy dog? And don’t even get me started on how I feel about the adjectives I used in the previous sentence; I HATE that crap. You might argue with me that people are smart enough to read these messages with a grain of salt, but I want to argue that no, some people aren’t. Plus, even if you’re a clever person, sometimes the brain simply cannot fight the constant flood of subtle messages. To be dangerous doesn’t mean being obvious; often the most dangerous social tools are subliminal and shown repeatedly, fooling the brain into thinking it is the norm.
These posts might not only be affecting women. I think it’s very possible that men read them as well and it further instills that men are cold, standoffish and unemotional. As masculinity is so important to many men in American society, how many of them read these and worry that being too attached to their girlfriend will make them less manly? Even worse, how many people feel validated in their abusive behavior upon reading these tweets?
I’m so sick of seeing bad relationships being romanticized. I am sick to death of it. We romanticize the broken-hearted teenage girl, the angry father, the aloof teenage boy. Why? What purpose does this serve? I understand that having your heart broken is sometimes a part of life and everyone gets jilted now and then, but we should say, “Sometimes stuff doesn’t work out,” not, “Don’t give up hope! Being treated like crap is really a secret way of saying you’re the Adonis of their existence!” I don’t want to see these messages and I tremble at the thought of naïve people seeing them. Instead, I want to see messages like, “Controlling another person is unhealthy and abusive,” and, “Never accept unloving behavior as love.” Because, what it really comes down to is that many of us want to find love. Whether it’s just for a summer or for the rest of our lives, we want to find that special person who makes us smile and feel sexy. And love isn’t about intentionally and repeatedly hurting the other person, or taking over their entire life. Abuse has no place in the realm of love; it’s like the complete opposite of love, actually. I don’t care what sex you are, what gender you are or if you even have a gender, I don’t care what sexual orientation you are, being abusive is never an acceptable part of someone’s identity. And when we romanticize abuse, we minimalize and/or validate it as a part of love.